I’m not sure how seriously to take the article below; for a start, it has to be taken into account that it appears in The Times, the sober, respectable manifestation of the virulently anti-BBC Murdoch empire. And in any case, I’m not sure if the phenomenon it reports is really that new; when I was touting my Noughties book a decade ago, I encountered interviewers (on both BBC outlets and Sky TV, part of the same stable as The Times) who had clearly only read the press release, and ultimately, in the course of a five-minute chat, it didn’t really matter. The only thing that strikes me as odd is the assertion that producers have explicitly been advised (“no direct order”) by their superiors to follow this tactic, which would be a bit like teachers specifically telling their students that it’s perfectly OK only to read the CliffsNotes and not bother with the text itself. The teachers know it happens; they’re actually quite glad it happens, because the alternative is that the kids have no chance whatsoever in the all-important exams, which are the be-all and end-all of modern education; but if they were to say it out loud, it would be akin to Toto pulling back the curtain.
It is interesting, though, that what is essentially a “dumbing-down” narrative is presented in the context of a shift in priorities towards younger listeners. Whether this is either fair or accurate is another matter, but the perception seems to be there. I wonder how many people from that all-important under-24 demographic read The Times?